My first ride on the MTA subway system was a long time ago. Then, from 161st Street in the Bronx (the Yankee Stadium station), I would take the 4 Train to Astor Place in the Village to attend classes at NYU which were held in a studio on a block at one end of which was The Fillmore East, and around the corner at the other end, CBGB.
The 1974 film Style Wars reveals the artists who painted those trains—inside and outside.
Back then, the 4 Train was made up of old cars, perhaps from as early as the 1930s, and likely the 1940s, probably the R-19s. The seats were covered in rattan, there were several fans in every car and in summer all the windows were opened. Passengers moved freely or stood (illegally) between cars—the sound was deafening.
Now, the MTA offers nostalgia rides on those same cars during the summer months. Tickets must be booked online in advance.
TO THE ROCKAWAYS BY RAIL: Saturday, August 13th, 10:00
BEACH BOUND: CONEY ISLAND: Sunday, July 10th, 10:00
CATCH THE IRT FROM OLD SOUTH FERRY LOOP: Saturday, June 4th, 09:30 and 14:00.
Otherwise, the MTA Transit Museum ($10) displays vintage cars and busses year-round at its facility, a decommissioned Subway Station in Brooklyn. The nearest station is Borough Hall, on the 4 or 5 Train.
This is a little-known adventure and a fun way to experience the largest subway system in the world. Its 457 stations is 150 more than the second-largest, Paris.